Writer: Douglas Livingstone
Starring: James Grout, Joan Sims, Norman Rodway, Jane Lowe, David Bamber, Tim Wylton
Production Company: BBC
Kent Location Used: Herne Bay, King’s Hall, Ramsgate Royal Harbour, Whitstable Harbour, Tankerton beach
Cockles! (1984) was a BBC comedy series, set in the fictional Kentish beach town of Cocklesea. The series follows ex-pat Arthur Dumpton trying to get the faded old seaside resort back to its former glory
The series was written by Douglas Livingstone (Clayhanger, Boys from the Bush), and stars James Grout (Inspector Morse, Mother Love) as Arthur Dumpton, Joan Sims (Carry on Screaming, Carry on Up the Khyber) as Gloria du Bois, Norman Rodway (Inspector Morse – Deceived by Flight (1989), Reilly: Ace of Spies) as Jacques, Jane Lowe (Bad Girls, The Creeping) as Mabel du Bois, David Bamber (Valkyrie, Miss Potter) as Graham and Tim Wylton (Pride and Prejudice, Wycliffe) as George.
Herne Bay doubles for the fictional town of Cocklesea, with filming taking place on the beach, the promenade by the bandstand and clocktower as well as along Central Parade. Private properties on Central Parade feature as the exterior of the Sunny Side Guest House run by Gloria DuBois and the Seaview Guesthouse run by Mabel. The King’s Hall appears throughout the series, doubling as the Cocklesea Pavilion which Arthur has bought and fixes up to become the new hub of the revived community.
Whitstable Harbour features as Cocklesea harbour in the first episode where Jaques and his mates Graham & George try to run a smuggling operation and Tankerton Beach also appears briefly in Episode 4, where George goes for a run by the Yacht Club.
Herne Bay is a coastal resort which is home to the world’s first free-standing purpose built clock tower. Productions which filmed in the town around the same time include Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em (1973), Blue Jeans (1977) and The Medusa Touch (1978).
Opened in 1913, the King’s Hall is an architectural gem, captivating visitors with its original Edwardian features and idyllic seafront views. French Dressing (1964) and Jagame Thandhiram (2021) filmed at this location.
Ramsgate is the home of the only Royal Harbour in the UK, decreed by King George IV in 1821 due to his fondness of the friendly locals he met there. The Harbour is a popular filming location, featuring in Contraband (1940), Á nous les petites Anglaises (1976) and The Big Sleep (1978).
Whitstable Harbour is a small commercial harbour in North Kent. Built in 1832 to serve the new railway, nowadays it is a municipal harbour. The town is famous for its oysters and the harbour has a number of shops which sell fish and shellfish.
The Tankerton Slopes are adjacent to Whitstable and consist of grassy banks covered in beach huts in front of a pebble beach. The beach features in Zoe and the Astronaut (2018) and Whitstable Pearl (2021-2022).
Cockles! (1984) aired on BBC One from Wednesday 4th January to Wednesday 8th February 1984.
For more information about Kent’s Filming History please visit our Movie Map.